National Service: Don’t just
emphasize on the “looks and feel” but the substance of it
by Loke Siew Fook
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has unveiled the designs of the uniform, logo and anthem of the National Service programme yesterday which was described as “young, cool and fun”.
He said, “The logo is a departure from the conventional National Service design that highlights a military image. It symbolises the inspiration of the young generation in moving forward as the inheritor of the nation”.
Najib who is the chairman of the Cabinet Committee for the National Service programme, said the logo-anthem-uniform combination would confer a special identity to the programme and strengthen the concepts of patriotism, national integration and volunteerism.
It is most disappointing that five months after the National Service Training Bill 2003 was passed in the June Parliament sittings and less than three months from the full implementation of the programme in February next year, the Cabinet Committee for the National Service programme could only unveil the designs of the uniform, logo and anthem but is still unable to inform Malaysians about the full details of the programme!
Najib must realize that all these are just the surface of the programme and no matter how good or “cool” are the designs of the uniform, logo and anthem, it will not achieve the objective of the programme if priorities are not given to the curriculum, approaches of the training and the values of the programme.
The most important question in the minds of Malaysian particularly the youths who will be going through the programme and their parents is what are the syllabus of the programme and how it could achieve the twin objectives of instilling patriotism and strengthen national unity among our younger generations.
Besides, there are many practical issues that needs to be addressed immediately by the Cabinet Committee to allay the concerns of all potential participants and their parents such as are the participants covered by insurance, are they given allowances during the training period and how to ensure the computer selection system to be fair to everyone when the latest announcement was that only 90,000 out of nearly 480,000 youths aged 18 next year will be selected?
There are also concerns among working youths that if they are selected for the programme, will they lose their jobs if their employers are unwilling to give them paid leave to attend the mandatory training for three months? Under the law, the employers are required to give paid leave to their employees only for thirty days.
All these questions has again been raised up by the DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan during the debate for the Budget allocation for Defence Ministry last week in Parliament but the Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie bin Apdal could not give any specific answers and merely said that those issues are still in consideration.
DAPSY urges the Cabinet Committee for the National Service programme to immediately finalize and announce all details pertaining to the programme to the Malaysian public. We would not like to see that this programme to end up like other typical campaigns which emphasized so much on the “looks and feel” but without any substance which will tend to fail like the Rakan Muda programme bearing in mind that the National Service is costing the Malaysians’ taxpayers RM500 million annually!
* DAPSY National Secretary, Loke Siew Fook